Treatment of tooth grinding and tooth wear


What is tooth grinding (bruxism)?


It’s the most common sleep disorder. This process is described as grinding between upper and lower teeth. Usually the teeth touch only when chewing, speaking and swallowing. Tooth grinding is involuntary; most people experience it at least once. Rare episodes are generally harmless and no treatment is needed.






What causes tooth grinding? What promotes it?


It is thought that a people with a certain type of personality grind teeth more often, also that stress aggravates the disorder. There’s no need to worry, though - no one grinds teeth constantly. Occasionally the disorder presents during adolescence. Some people clench teeth (the jaw does not move and there is no grinding noise) and may start grinding teeth during some period in life (stressful episodes, problems at work or at home).

Grinding can also be provoked by some drugs: antidepressants, epilepsy medicine. The condition is also associated with Parkinson’s disease, depression, malocclusion and improper oral hygiene. There is also a hereditary element – children of teeth-grinding parents may also develop the habit.


When does tooth grinding occur?


In daytime people usually clench teeth and can control it up to some point. Stress during the day leads to grinding at night. Sleep bruxism is diagnosed most often (up to 80% of all cases). It occurs during a particular sleep phase as muscle contractions caused by the central nervous system. Jaw movements are involuntary and chaotic. Besides tooth grinding, often these people talk in their sleep, snore or suffer from sleep apnea. It is important to know that different people do not experience the same intensity of tooth grinding - for some it happens a couple of times, for others - 8-20 times in one night.


Does tooth grinding occur to children?


Of course. Some children wear down their primary teeth. Tooth grinding is more intensive during adolescence, but is most common to people ages 25-44.




How is it diagnosed?


Usually people see a dentist when a close person notices the habit. Some symptoms are particularly common: headache and sore chewing muscles in the morning, pain radiating towards the ear, tense shoulder muscles, sleep disturbances. Indisputable signs of tooth grinding is tooth wear and increased chewing muscle tone. Though there may be other causes of tooth wear, such as chemical compounds, increased stomach acidity and particular food, therefore only a clinician can correctly diagnose the cause.


How much hard does grinding or clenching do?

Tooth grinding causes problems for a third of all people. Western dental specialists have been discussing and researching the issue for a while, whereas this is new in Lithuania. Severe tooth grinding can cause jaw joint disorders, pain of facial muscles, headache, ear pain, tension of shoulder muscles, sleep disturbances, tooth mobility and even inflammation of the pulp, chewing deteriorates. Involuntary tooth grinding sometimes damages the teeth severely enough to make prosthetics necessary.



Is tooth grinding treated pharmaceutically?


There is no specific drug. Usually tooth grinding occurs during sleep and is involuntary, therefore it is hard to manage. In daytime the patient should try to control his/her habits. Sleep bruxism should be managed by your dentist. You dentist will assess the causes and provide treatment. Special mouthguards, worn at night on one of the jaws, can protect teeth from excessive wear. They also relax the chewing muscles and protect the jaw joint. However, if teeth are severely worn, they might need restoring using prostheses.


Clinical treatment methods:

  • protective mouthguards;
  • mouthguards for bruxism.

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